Commercial Waste Collection
Commercial waste collected by an entity other than the local authority can only be collected in accordance with a waste permit. Permits may be granted by a single authority to cover a number of authorities’ areas. There is an exemption for certain types of waste collection. This includes the incidental carrying of waste, transportation of waste, with a vehicle with an axle weight of less than one tonne and the collection of packaging waste.
An application for a waste permit is made to be a local authority. There is an appeal against the decision to the District Court. Conditions can be imposed on the permit. The conditions will be relevant to the type of waste concerned. The permit can be refused or revoked if the person is convicted of certain waste or pollution offences.
Written submissions may be made in relation to an application for a permit. A local authority may review and amend the conditions at any time. A review is contemplated every two years. There is no public participation in the review. A review may be requested if circumstances change.
Waste brokers and dealers are obliged to keep details of the type of waste they deal with, its origin and destination, treatment, recovery and disposal. There are requirements in relation to the tracking of waste and proof of delivery and recovery in relation to certain types of waste, including in particular, hazardous waste. The EPA must be notified in relation to applications for hazardous waste collection.
In the case of hazardous waste, consignment notes must be used. There are regulations regarding the transport of hazardous waste. Certain exemptions apply. In the case of consignments of hazardous waste, the consignee must notify the local authority where the waste originates and the local authority where is it situated within five days of the movement. If the consignment is refused, it must be returned to the consignor. Documentary evidence must be kept in relation to the movement of hazardous wastes and its transportation.
Waste Collection Permits
On an application for a waste permit, the local authority, may refuse to grant, grant or grant subject to conditions. The local authority must have regard to ministerial recommendations made under the Waste Management Act.
Waste must be transferred to a licensed facility. Conditions necessary to secure the proper and lawful disposal of the waste may be imposed in a collection permit.
On an application for a licence, any person may make written submissions to the authority. They are circulated to the applicant and other interested parties. Other entities are notified of the proposed application. The local authority is obliged to endeavour to meet certain deadlines, in relation to the application. The licence is granted for a five year period.
Since 2012, new and replacement waste collection permits are applied for and issued by the National Waste Collection Permit Office, which is hosted by Offaly County Council. This Office also administers other aspects of existing permits. The enforcement of the waste collection permit The geographical extent of each waste collection permit is dependent upon the application made by the permit holder.
EPA and Local Authority Licensing
Certain categories of waste recovery are licensed by the EPA The may be covered under IPC or IPCC licences. Activities subject to EPA licensing is not subject to licensing under the Waste Management Act.
Waste with less impact or accumulated on a more minor scale or which is benign in nature, is subject to local authority licensing only under the Waste Management Act. This may cover such matters as
- recovery of scrap metal or waste metal;
- breaking of vehicles;
- incineration of waste at a capacity of less than one ton per hour;
- recovery of waste comprising of electric bulbs/lighting;
- recovery of waste where the facility holds less than 1,000 cubic metres at a time; and
- non- hazardous waste, except landfill, where the intake does not exceed 5,000 tonnes per year.
There are exemptions from licensing requirements for
- the deposit of litter in a litter bin;
- certain animal by-products disposal;
- the recovery of sludge and agricultural wastes (includes sludge from treatment plants and septic tanks);
- certain animal wastes, including animal blood, faecal matter of animal or poultry origin
- certain other prescribed activities.
Regulations may be prescribed in respect of the above agricultural activities. In some cases, they require the consent of local authority for the relevant activity. They may provide for the keeping of records in relation to agricultural sludge. By-laws have been made on the spreading of waste and in relation to the use of sludge in agriculture.
Waste Licence Application
The procedures for waste licence applications are broadly similar to those in respect of planning permission. The required information is prescribed. The decision must be made within a time limit. The time limits may be extended by requests for further such information and during periods when the required information is outstanding on the application.
Waste license applications to the EPA may involve an informal phase, followed by the formal procedure. There may be negotiations in the course of the application. Objections and written submissions may be made in relation to the application. There is a time limit, in which they must be submitted. They must be taken into account in the determination.
The EPA takes account of a range of factors, including all information submitted, observations, environmental issues, government policies, environmental standards and such other matters as may be prescribed. Waste disposal and recovery licences may provide a range of conditions. There are provisions for review and revocation of waste licenses. Regulations contemplate a review and review process every two years.
The EPA requires the consent of the sanitary authority, where the license involves the running of trade or sewage effluent into its sewers. The sanitary authority must make a decision within a reasonable time. It must assure certain water quality standards are complied with.
Licence Grant & Conditions
Conditions attached to a licence are at the discretion of the EPA. Certain mandatory conditions are provided for and others may be appropriate to the type of waste involved. A license may not be granted if the waste would contravene standards under the legislation, cause environmental pollution, breach EU standards on landfills, would not employ the best available techniques to reduce and eliminate emissions. The activity must be consistent with the relevant waste or hazardous waste management plan.
The applicant must be a fit and proper person to hold a licence. It must have the requisite financial, administrative technical and financial capacity. The Licensed activity must not breach noise standards. The necessary measures must be taken for recovery. Provision must be made for final abandonment mothballing and decommissioning of waste and waste facilities.
There are no strict time limits for the determination of licence application. It has to be made as expeditiously as possible. There are provisions for the making of representations. A request for an oral hearing may be made.
Licences are reviewed so as to ensure compliance with relevant best available technology. The licensee must notify the EPA of any change in the nature, extent and function of the activity if it could have consequences for the environment. The change may not be made unless the EPA notifies the holder that the review is not necessary.
The licence may be reviewed by the EPA on certain grounds or any time two years after the last review of the licence. There are certain procedures involving public consultation in relation to the review of a licence. A licence must be reviewed
- if pollution exceeds existing limit values;
- the pollution is so significant that existing limit values need to revised or new values have been specified;
- substantial changes have taken place in technology making it possible to reduce emissions without significant cost.
- operational safety requires new techniques.
A waste licence is personal and does not attach to land. If it is desired to transfer the licence, a joint application must be made to the EPA. The transfer may be refused. A licence may be surrendered but this may only be done on condition that there is no ongoing risk that the facility is causing or is likely to cause pollution.
Where a waste license is transferred, the transferee undertakes all the obligations and requirements, even those arising prior to the transfer. The EPA must be satisfied that the transferee is a fit and proper person. Accordingly, a transferee must undertake a careful due diligence, in order to satisfy itself in relation to liabilities being assumed.
Suspension and Termination
Licences may be revoked or suspended on various grounds. This includes that the holder is no longer fit due to serious reasons. The surrender of the licence does not diminish the obligations of the licence holder.
Generally, due process should take place in relation to the revocation, suspension and renewal of the licence. There is an appeal to the High Court. This may confirm or cancel the revocation or suspension.
The EPA may only accept a surrender of a waste licence, where it is satisfied that there is no ongoing pollution. It appears that the EPA license continues until the EPA accept surrender.
A waste licence will lapse if the activity is not commenced within three years. This may be extended on an application. Various fees and charges are payable in the context of the application and in relation to on-ongoing monitoring conditions. Fees apply on licence review.
The courts have been reluctant to make receivers and liquidators personally liable for waste license conditions, in the case of insolvent companies.
A liquidator or receiver may be able to disclaim a licence. It appears that it is possible for a liquidator of an insolvent company to disclaim a licence (as it it is “onerous” property). It would appear that a disclaimer may be allowed, where the asset is otherwise unsaleable. The mere fact that a company is in liquidation, is not a sufficient basis to allow a disclaimer.
A licence may cease upon the company no longer having corporate existence upon the termination of the liquidation
Waste Licence Issues
A waste licence does not of itself authorise the activities concerned. Planning permission may be necessary.
Civil liability obligations apply. Owners and occupiers in the vicinity may take action for nuisance negligence or for dangerous escapes.
Where a waste licence is granted in respect of an activity covered under air, water pollution or fisheries licence, the latter licence ceases to take effect. Planning conditions relating to waste lapse on the grant of a licence.
Waste brokers and dealers must keep records of waste dealt with, in their business. This includes the origin, destination, treatment, discovery, recovery and disposal of the waste. They must give details and notice to the local authority of their waste recovery activities. They must keep and retain records for a period.
The failure to have a waste license where required is subject on conviction on indictment to a fine up to €15 million and/or 10 years imprisonment. Then directors, managers, secretary and other officers, who consent to or connive with the action, may be prosecuted and convicted.
On prosecution of an offence, where it is proved, due to the nature of the disposal or recovery activity, the period during which it was carried on, the characteristics of the land and other circumstances, it is reasonable to infer that the recovery or disposal was carried on with land owner’s consent, then it is so presumed, until the contrary is shown.
A waste injunction may issue, if waste is being held, recovered or disposed of, in a manner which causes or is likely to cause environmental pollution or breach certain legislation. In an application for a waste injunction, the court may apply the “polluter pays”. Polluters may also be liable under common law principles of nuisance and negligence.
Orders may be made requiring remediation and rectification of historical waste pollution. The Irish courts have held that directors may be polluters under EU legislation, in respect of waste dealt with by their company. It appears the courts are more willing to admit the “corporate veil” in the context of enforcement in relation to waste and contamination, than in other areas.
The courts have been willing to interpret that the persons who carry out the relevant acts by the directors and not by the company. They have been willing to impose personal liability on directors and landowners, to whose land, waste is transferred.
The EPA and the local authorities have been given powers to impose administrative sanctions. These are equivalent to “on the spot” fines.
A notice may be served requiring specified measures be taken, such, for example, the cessation of holding, recovery, use or disposal of waste or the mitigation or remediation of the effects of any activity in a specified manner.
Persons who have been served may make representations. Having considered the representations, the local authority may confirm, amend or annul the notice. It is not complied with, the local authority may take steps to comply and to charge and recover the costs to the party concerned.
Registers of the various licence holders are kept by the EPA and the local authorities. They are open for inspection by the public. The registers contain details of the licences and details of any enforcement steps.